A neighbourhood plan, devised by a group of residents, has been formally agreed following a referendum in Golborne and Lowton West.
The plan sets out the type of developments which will be permitted in the two towns over the next ten years – and had to go to the public vote in order to be adopted by Wigan Council.
The Golborne and Lowton West Neighbourhood Plan was developed to help establish which types of homes and business premises which should be allowed locally – both in terms of their size, what materials they use, how they look, what facilities they have and what kinds of jobs they create.
The referendum took place on Thursday 6 July, with anyone living in the Golborne and Lowton West area eligible to vote.
When ballots were counted, there were 286 votes against, and 703 in favour. With a majority of 50% saying yes being needed, the plan will now be agreed, and become part of the council’s formal planning policies.
What is the Golborne and Lowton West Neighbourhood Plan?
The plan covers the next ten years and looks at how the two towns should be allowed to grow and change. It covers aspects including what types of new housing should be built, which kind of businesses should be allowed to open, and where, and looks at how parks, green spaces and community facilities could be protected and enhanced.
In fact, the Plan has a central vision, which is defined as: “To create a range of local economic opportunities, housing and community facilities, to meet the diverse local needs of the communities of Golborne and Lowton West, and a high quality and sustainable local environment, restoring local pride and dignity.”
It was put together by the Golborne and Lowton West Neighbourhood Forum – a group of local people who are working together for everyone’s benefit.
If the plan is agreed – that is, if 50% of voters who take part say yes, it will be adopted by the council and all future planning applications will be considered against the requirements set out in the plan.
What does the plan say?
The plan looks at a number of aspects of life in Lowton and Golborne – both now and in the future. It considers the kinds of housing that people want and need, how to create opportunities such as local jobs and how the towns can support the lifestyles that people living here want – for example with access to outside space and leisure facilities.
Some of they key aspirations in the plan include:
Realising the potential of Golborne Town Centre
The plan aims to get Golborne Town Centre thriving, supported by the plans for a new railway station (which are separate to the plan itself). It hopes to encourage inward investment to help restore some of the historic buildings along Golborne High Street – part of which is a conservation area. By restoring and putting them back into use, as business or residential units, it hopes to breathe new live into Golborne’s centre, making it a place where people want to spend time and money in local businesses.
The plan also sets out an aspiration to create a community hub in Golborne Town centre, which would offer meeting space, a function room, indoor recreation and other community uses.
Millingford Industrial Estate would become a mix of business and residential units
The plan looks at three Primary Employment Areas – Millingford Industrial Estate, Stone Cross and Kid Glove Road.
The plan recognises that the buildings on Millingford Industrial Estate are empty and in a poor condition. It suggests a mix of residential homes and business premises would be a good use for the site, and hopes that this will also contribute to increased use of the town centre. The suggested types of residential accomodation include apartments or residential units for older people. It also suggests that businesses such as cafes, restaurants, gyms, offices (known as Class E businesses in planning terms) or community facilities would be a good use for this area, too.
Protecting nature and the environment
Green spaces including Byrom Hall Wood, Golborne Park, Legh Street Park and Lightshaw Meadows all feature in the plan.
The plan is clear that Byrom Hall Wood should not be negatively impacted by development, and that trees and hedges should be retained wherever possible. Golborne Park (The Bonk) and Legh Street Park are also protected, with development on Golborne Park only permitted if it is “small scale and directly related to the recreational use of the park”.
Any development in the towns should have no unacceptable impact on pollution or air quality, and should help to achieve a net gain in biodiversity.
The plan also requires that any new homes which are built should come with secure, covered storage for bikes, charging facilities for electric vehicles and ideally be of “exceptional design quality and building environmental performance, in excess of building regulation requirements”.
It also suggests that any development should seek to ‘put pedestrians first’, and make walking and cycling around the two towns as easy as possible.
Attractive housing which meets the needs of local people
The plan is critical of some of the recent development in and around Golborne and Lowton – citing ‘off the peg’ housing types which lack character and with little regard for how the developments look from the street, especially in and around Golborne Town Centre, where many have been built with little regard to their appearance from the road. It wants to prevent any further private developments with car parks at the front and buildings set back, or high fencing along road frontages.
It suggests that local materials such as red brick, plain clay tiles, timber doors and windows would be preferable, and that developers should provide new amenities when they build, rather than rely on nearby public green space alone. It suggests guidelines which would make house frontages more attractive – including restrictions on the height of front fences and the use of native planting to enhance the look of local areas.
The plan recognises the findings of the 2020 Housing Needs Assessment, which highlighted a need for more homes in the borough suitable for young people and families – which means more smaller properties and three bedroom family size houses. The same assessment also specifically found that in Golborne and Lowton, there was a high need for larger three and four bed homes, as well as one bed flats and two bed homes.
The same Housing Needs Survey found a requirement for more affordable homes, as well as homes for older people. This demand is likely to grow in future with an aeging population.
The plan suggests Millingford Industrial Estate would be a suitable location for these kinds of homes, which would help to meet local need. And it also says that to be sustainable, new housing should also be supported by local community facilities.
How was the plan put together?
The plan has been informed by several years of community consultation, starting in 2019. There have been surveys, a monthly newsletter and social media updates from the Golborne and Lowton Neighbourhood Forum.
How will the plan be enforced?
Now that the plan is agreed, the ‘rules’ set out in it will be part of the planning process for all future applications – they will need to show that they are in keeping with the vision agreed in the plan.
It will be the job of the Golborne and Lowton West Neighbourhood Forum to monitor how the plan is being implemented over the next ten years.
How can I find out more?
Visit Wigan Council’s website to see the proposed Neighbourhood Plan in full and download all the supporting documents.
You can also visit the Golborne and Lowton West Neighbourhood Voice website, or email them: firstname.lastname@example.org.